Bruce Daigrepont

Cajun

Metarie, LA

Bruce was born in New Orleans in 1958 to parents who were part of a post-World War II migration of Cajuns to New Orleans from the rural farming communities of Avoyelles Parish. Located in the uppermost corner of Louisiana's "Cajun triangle," Avoyelles Parish is the forgotten part of Cajun country. Nevertheless, the language and customs of the Cajun people are as deeply rooted here as anywhere in the state.

The same, instinctive pride of culture and heritage that has guided his parents' lives, and his grandparents' lives, is now invested in Bruce's music. Music came to Bruce at an early age, and in the most traditional manner--handed down from father to son. When he was growing up, no family gathering was complete without a little playing and singing. His father picked the guitar, "Carter Family-style," while his Uncle Alton lent a remarkable voice to the traditional Cajun songs and old-time country ballads.     When Bruce turned five, his father presented him with a guitar, and by the age of ten he was also bearing down on a five-string banjo. It was in 1978, after attending the annual Festival Acadiens in Lafayette, that Bruce was inspired to devote himself to the French accordion. By 1980 he had his own Cajun band, and was honing his skills at regular Thursday-night fais do do dances at the Maple Leaf Bar. Over the next six years, Bruce Daigrepont almost single-handedly popularized Cajun music and Cajun dancing in cosmopolitan New Orleans.

In 1986 Bruce moved the fais do do dance to the original Tipitina's, corner of Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas streets, where it continues to this day, every Sunday evening from five till nine. Bruce is one of New Orleans' and Louisiana's great musical institutions; and he has emerged as one of Cajun music's finest cultural ambassadors. Outside of New Orleans, he has performed throughout North America and several foreign countries.  Most rewarding, though, are his annual "homecoming" pilgrimages to the French-speaking Canadian maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where the history of the Louisiana Cajuns had its harsh beginnings. It is here that the deeper meanings of Bruce's original song creations can be appreciated and celebrated to the fullest extent. Imagine 2,000 Acadians packed into a hockey rink in the little town of Buctouche, New Brunswick, raising their voices in unison to the chorus of Bruce's "Marksville Two-Step:" "On est tous cousins, cher, one est tous cousines" - "We're all cousins; we're all cousins!" It is the spirit of cultural reunion personified.

Bruce is one of Cajun music's most gifted singers. In keeping with the old-time dance hall musicians, he sings loud and passionately, in the high tenor register, where many Cajun singers of today fear to tread. The same spirit of adventure that distinguishes his singing is also present in Bruce's accordion playing. He has developed a highly individual style, patterned after no one past master, but imbued with the zest and vitality of them all. People are often astonished by the fact that, while the feel of a guitar lingers heavily in the mix, Bruce does not actually have a guitar player in his band. Neither is there a keyboard. 

Bruce's recording career began in 1986 with his first release, "Stir Up the Roux," followed by "Coeur des Cajuns" in 1989, "Petit Cadeau" in 1994 and "Paradis" in 1999. Each of these projects has garnered critical acclaim. What makes Bruce's recordings so special is his unwavering attention to detail, his inventiveness, and the sense of mastery he brings to every song. 

His live performances are marked by an air of freewheeling spontaneity as he maintains a floating repertoire of more than two hundred songs, from the traditional Cajun waltzes and two-steps to those of his own creation, to ancient fiddle reels, deep blues, swamp pop, Zydeco and R&B. On stage, he is free to shuffle these songs around at will. Or, as Bruce so aptly puts it, "I just play whatever song starts to come out of my fingers," while the band hangs on for dear life.             

Bruce keeps his music focused on the instruments that have historically defined the Cajun sound--accordion and fiddle. The only additional instrumentation on stage is an aggressive rhythm section (bass, drums and an occasional rubboard or triangle) which takes pride in "keeping it Cajun," sustaining a hard-edged attack while assiduously avoiding any homogenizing influences. Bruce has always enjoyed exploring new directions, but, while constantly testing the resilience of the Cajun tradition, he never goes "too far." He is thoroughly steeped in the music that he so lovingly upholds, and he knows instinctively what is needed to keep it alive and well. 

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